Home and business owners have long understood the importance of a healthy septic system. Regularly maintaining a septic system ensures that it will work properly, without any odoriferous consequences.
Septic systems work by moving water from sinks and showers (grey water) and from toilets (black water) to a tank, where it separates into solids, liquid, and a foam on top. Bacteria then breaks down the solids and foam into a more liquid state. The relatively clear liquid is then pumped into a drain field where it can slowly be absorbed into the soil safely and without creating a bad smell. You can prevent tank problems with a better understanding of how the system works, how to maintain it, and regularly scheduled professional septic pumping.
DIY Tips For Preventing Septic System Failure
To keep the bacteria that live within your septic system alive and functional, there are several steps you can take:
• Stop using antibacterial soaps and cleaners. While these products kill bacteria on your skin and in your home, they also kill the helpful bacteria that break down solids and foam within the tank. Without these helpful bacteria, your septic system can become clogged.
• Keep non-biodegradable substances out of your septic pumping. Flushing or pouring non-biodegradable chemicals, pesticides, grease, or oil down the toilet or sink can upset the natural balance required to liquefy waste products. Other non-biodegradable items include feminine products, baby diapers and paper towels. Non-biodegradable items should always be disposed of in the trash.
• Reduce garbage disposal use. Food waste that does not contain the bacteria necessary to break it down can overwhelm a system and offset the natural processes needed to make it function properly.
• Take shorter showers and reduce the number of baths taken. Bath and shower water contain very little of the bacteria needed to keep your septic tank healthy.
How To Spot A Problem
Look for the following signs of potential problems that could lead to expensive repairs:
• Slow draining. In homes and businesses connected to city water, slow draining can mean the pipes have developed too much residue, reducing the flow rate and causing draining to slow, especially after a heavy rain. In a septic system, however, slow draining can indicate inadequate or clogged venting.
• Green grass. Everyone wants a lush, green lawn, but excessive growth over the drain field can indicate a leak. This is easier to spot during winter months, when the rest of your lawn is brown and dry, but a careful examination of the area over the entire system can warn of potential problems.
• Septic alarms. Newer septic systems include alarms that alert you to the need for pumping or other problem.
• Bad smells. There is simply no way to ignore a septic system that smells bad. Besides the health risks associated with those bad smells, they will infiltrate your home, furnishings, and carpets. These smells are difficult to get rid of, once they have occurred, and they can indicate that it is time to call for professional assistance immediately.
Professional Septic Pumping & Maintenance
Septic pumping is the most common and effective way to prevent septic tank failure. Most towns and municipalities have legal requirements to perform septic pumping every 2-3 years, but the frequency of pumping best suited to your system depends upon the tank size, the amount of water that goes into the system, and how much of that volume is solids.
You can make maintenance and repairs easier and less costly if you map out your septic system; be sure to include the tank, pipe lines, access points, and the drain field.
When To Call For Professional Repairs
If you notice signs of septic failure as noted above, you will need to call a professional. They can inspect your system for problem areas and offer helpful solutions long before major excavation is required. Septic pumping professionals in your area are familiar with local and Federal regulations regarding septic systems, preventing fines and other legal complications.